Many people in federal prisons across the country were happy to hear that they may secure release due to COVID-19 and the CARES Act. Over time, as with most things in Federal prison, this hope was crushed slowly for them.  In the CARES Act, a little part (about 2 sentences) authorizes the BOP to release prisoners to home confinement and do so whenever they like.

Notice, there were no rules? Just that they can release people when they want, whenever they want. So why are more Federal inmates not being released? The BOP elected to create, out of thin air, arbitrary rules to prevent many Federal prisoners from being released. The ones that don’t align perfectly to these arbitrary rules are not eligible for release. The BOP can change the factors that impact the measurability at any time they like and do. I will show you examples from my paperwork further into this article.

The one that we are talking about today, specifically, is the PATTERN score.  The PATTERN score stands for Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs. In many cases, it can fluctuate based on your case manager and/or how much the staff like or dislike you.  I know this sounds insane, but I will show below my information to show how this is true and is subject to change at the whim of the BOP. Not only can I point to my own documents, but the BOP themselves have been shown to have a Secret Document that Raises the Risk Factors for PATTERN and, in some cases, the security levels of prisoners.

Brandon Garrett, a Duke University law professor who studies risk assessment tools, said :

It really tanks the whole enterprise if, once an instrument is selected, it can be tragically altered to make sure low-risk people don’t get released,

Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening.


I had put in two motions for Compassionate Release (pursuant to section 3582 of the United States Code). The second one was granted. Upon response to the first one, the BOP said I had a “Minimum Pattern Score”.

You can see this for yourself below:

Amber Bourke Decl.png Pattern Score Manipulation By Bop
Amber bourke’s declaration opposing my first compassionate release request to the courts.

Months later, I was put in for the “Cares Act” release. The case manager called me into his office. When entering, I jokingly said, “so when is my release date” to which he responded, “well, it may be soon”. I had seen many people at the facility that I was in getting evaluated for the Cares Act. At the end of the day, I had seen that for every 40 or so people they would evaluate, they might have released one, maybe two. Sometimes none. It was merely a bureaucratic check box for the case manager. It enabled my facility to say that they “tried” to get “as many people out as possible”. While in all actuality doing the opposite.

This is a common occurrence in the BOP. They say they say they are doing one thing while systematically doing everything they can to do the opposite. It can be pretty upsetting getting evaluated for Cares Act release because the staff, especially the case manager, will tell you that you “definitely qualify” and “will absolutely get release” while doing everything they can to prevent that.  Knowing that, my first reaction was that this was a waste of time and an annoyance. When you are doing time, you get to “bidding” or establishing a daily routine that involves doing the same thing every day. This makes the day go by much quicker. While I always mixed it up (because I’m not too fond of routines), much of the time, you will be doing mostly the same thing at about the same time. I ask him, “why are you fucking with my bid?!?!”, he was not quite sure how to respond to that. I was angry.

I was not angry because the case manager had pulled me into his office. I was angry because I knew that the next step in the evaluation process would be me having to let my wife know that United States Probation will be coming to the house to evaluate it. In turn, I also knew that as any would, this would give her hope that I would be released early. I knew better and did my best to let her know that it was just a cloud of smoke and mirrors. I tried to inform her that it was just one step of many in the bureaucratic process. I have no doubt it was heartbreaking for her to hear that, but I wanted her to be prepared for the eventual letdown that was sure to follow.

After about a month or so, Washington denied the application. The BOP’s hierarchy goes like this:

Case Manager ->

CMC (or Case Management Coordinator) ->

Unit Manager -> Associate Warden  -> Warden ->

Regional Office (there are 6 of these, Mid-Atlantic, North Central, Northeast, South Central, Southeast, Western)->

Central Office (located in Washington D.C.)


As such, it took a little while to come back. Throughout the entire process, my case manager, against my request, updated me. Telling me that the CMC signed off, then the Unit Manager, etc., etc. He called me to his office each time, knowing that I did not want to hear the updates. This is at the end of the day how BOP employees (some of them) have fun. Until one day, he called me to tell me that the BOP denied it. He had told me to “make sure and tell your wife that U.S. Probation is coming through”. Which they never did. It was the only reason I told her to begin with because I knew that it would get her hopes up, but also that if I did not tell her, she would be shocked to see them. Wanting to prevent the latter, I elected to tell her.

After that process was finally over, I went back to “bidding”. I told my wife so. I had at one point allowed for myself to have a sliver of hope that the BOP would actually release me and I would be reunited with my family, but that was an asinine thought. However, I knew that I could use it. As such, I questioned my case manager about the denial. He told me that I was denied because of my PATTERN score.

As you saw above, I had a Minimum. The only thing that changed between the date of the CMC Amber Borke writing that signed Declaration to the court and me being put up for the Cares Act was that I moved from “behind the fence”, from a unit called J-A, which has cells, and predominantly people who just got out of SHU, lifers, and violent offenders (units like this one are classified by the BOP as “medium” security because they are cells)to the Minimum Security Camp. As such, I was baffled at the time as to why my Pattern Score would have gone from Minimum to Low.

When I asked my case manager about it, he got on his computer and said, “you have always had a Low pattern score”. I politely told him that his boss, the CMC, had written a signed deceleration (equivalent to being under oath) that said something else. He responded by saying that he would “like to see that”. I went back to my bunk, grabbed my legal work folder, and got it. I brought it back and handed it to him. He looked at it, then looked at me as he tilted his head and said, “I dunno, the computer says you have a low pattern score, nothing I can do”.

If you are facing federal prison, this is what you have to look forward to. Despite the BOP propaganda, 9 times out of 10, the left-hand does not know what the right is doing, and most of the time, they do not care. They are there for 40 hours, for 20 years, and the worst crime that an inmate can commit is to “make them do their job”.

I ended up using his statements and documentation when I represented myself in writing my own motion to the United States District Court of Vermont for Compassionate Release, to show the fact that they do not even know what each other is doing, never mind actually working together to ensure the safety of the inmates from COVID-19. Many of the 200 pages that I wrote for the motion provided examples of this on different occasions.

I won my motions for Compassionate Release.